Overhead mobility and overhead stability are common issues that we see as coaches. More and more of us are leading sedentary lives mostly driven by our occupations such as spending 8 hours a day sitting at a desk! So well done to you for being a member and recognising the importance of health and well-being in the other 16 hours of your day.
To help you along your way and hopefully improve your training longevity we need to look after the shoulders/ back and chest. So here are my top 3 exercises to help either your overhead mobility or stability:
1. Box Stretch - Place a raised object on the floor that is roughly the same height as the wooden boxes we have here in the gym, this could be a dining chair or coffee table. Position yourself on your knees approximately 1m away but facing the object. Putting both hands flat (face down) on the top of the object. you are then going to lower your head and chest down towards the floor whilst keeping your hands in full contact with the object and arms at full reach, stop once you feel tightness across the front of your shoulders, pecs or neck. Never stretch to the point of pain.
Try to relax into this stretch taking long slow deep breaths, hold this for 20-30 seconds and then sit back up. Try doing this 5 - 8 times gradually trying to get lower with your chest each time. Remember to keep that neutral (flat) back position at all times.
2. Door Jam Stretch - Focusing on one side at a time this is a really good stretch to release the tension that a lot of us have in our Pectoral (Chest) muscles, again this is commonly brought about by sitting, driving etc.
In a standing position, place your forearm vertically against a door frame or end of a wall. Your elbow should be slightly above shoulder height. You are then going to bring your chest forward whilst maintaining full contact with the door frame. You should be feeling this stretch right through your Pectoral. Play around a little with the height of your elbow in relation to your shoulder as everyone will be tight in slightly different areas. See what works best for you. 20-30 seconds each side for 4 rounds.
3. Seated Dumbbell or Kettlebell strict press - Now one for building that stability. I first saw this exercise being performed by Marcus Filly (CrossFit Games Athlete). Sitting on the floor with your legs together outstretched in front of you, you will have either a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. (WARNING: Start light with this one, you will be surprised at how difficult this is).
Keeping your torso at a right angle to your legs, engaging that core you are going to strict press the KB/DB's overhead both at the same time. This exercise removes any momentum that you main gain doing this movement standing and requires a great deal of focus and stability right from your hips up to your wrists. Pause for a second at the top before lowering the DB/KB's for a 2 second count (aka slow and controlled!)
Watch out for those ribs/chest flaring out in front of you, the ribs should remain set in position and a neutral spine position should be maintained throughout. This prevents any strain being put on the lower back.
As ever, if you have any questions on the exercises noted here on any overhead mobility issues in general, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org